Inter Milan: The Strength of Conte's Men

By Tomas Alfonso

15-April-2021 on Analysis

12 minute read

Tomas Alfonso is a performance analyst at Argentinian club CA Colon. He is also the owner of the Analista Futbol Twitter account.

 

In his first guest post for Nacsport he looks at Italian league leaders, Inter Milan and breaks down for us exactly why they are sitting at the top of Serie A at the moment.

 

Tomas's tactical report was created using Nacsport and KlipDraw

 

So, without any further ado, over to Tomas...

With only 2 defeats so far this season and with them currently sitting more than 10 points clear of their closest rivals, AC Milan, Inter Milan look on course to sweep to victory in this season’s Serie A. But what makes Antonio Conte’s men so formidable at the moment? Quite simply, they have the best attack and the best defense in this season’s Serie A.

 

Let’s take a closer look at each…

 

The Defensive Phase

 

Inter Milan Defensive Structure

 

When defending, Inter Milan usually line themselves up in a 5-3-2 formation. When they go ahead in a game, they tend to hang back in the low-medium block, closing the passing lines in order to recover the ball. When they do recover, the look to play it quickly up the field to either Lukaku or Lautaro.

 

Inter’s great tactical organisation in defense has been one of Conte’s team’s greatest virtues this season, especially in the 2nd half.

 

Inter Milan vs AC Milan

 

A good example of this tactical organisation can be seen in this game against AC Milan, where effective defense was one of the keys to victory.

 

Every player gets involved in this phase, with Lukaku and Lautaro covering inside passes, forcing AC out wide where they were pressured and lost progress as a result.

 

blocking passes inter milan

 

The forwards block the inside passing lines, forcing the play to the outside. This pressure led to an advantage for Inter very early in the match.

 

numerical superiority inter milan

 

Pushing the pressure to the wings allowed Inter to generate numerical superiority, or at least equality, making life very uncomfortable for their opponent. This meant that AC had to resort to long balls into the area.

 

inter milan defensive collage

 

Defensive structure 5-3

 

Here we see Inter’s low block positioning with 5 defenders (the three central defenders and two wingers) lining up across the back whilst the 3 midfielders hang in front of this formation. The two forwards wait up the field, playing AC’s defensive line.

 

The idea here is to stay compact, prevent AC from passing inside and recover the ball before playing it quickly up to Lukaku or Lautaro who make a break for goal.

 

inter milan defense collage 2

 

In this match against Genoa, we see similar tactical planning. There can be some flexibility in the 5-3-2 formation, but the general idea is the same: cover the inside passes and force the opponent out wide.

 

Here we can see numerical superiority on the wing with a 4vs3 and Brozovic in the middle in case their opponent succeeds in breaking through the line.

 

intern milan defense analysis

 

In this match against Sassuolo, we see the same thing: Inter defending after gaining a goal advantage. Defending in 5-3-2, compact, well profiled and not allowing the opponent to attack on the inside.

 

inter milan last phase of defense

 

Here, the team pressures the ball, cutting off possible support for the opposition defender both near and far.

 

And once they recover the ball, what happens?

 

inter milan long pass

 

The long ball is played to one of the two strikers who look to shake their markers and attack space deep to begin the offensive transition and reach the opposition area as quickly as possible. This is a team that takes full advantage of the power of it’s strikers, especially Lukaku.

 

inter milan long ball collage

 

Here, Lukaku and Lautaro are sitting forward waiting patiently for the defense to recover the ball and begin the offensive transition.

 

And this is the defensive pattern of Conte’s Inter this season, especially when they hold a goal advantage.

 

Offensive Phase

 

inter milan offensive formations

 

Typically, Inter take up a formation of 3-5-2 in the offensive phase: 3 central defenders, 2 running the wings, 3 midfielders and the 2 strikers, who almost never occupy the same line.

 

Conte relies in the input of his wingers in offense, always wide, supporting the forwards and midfielders and playing for the area.

 

offensive build up antonio conte inter

 

When beginning an attack from the back, Brozovic is a constant figure ahead of the defense, open for a pass. The three central defenders also have good feet, especially De Vrij and Bastoni.

 

If play goes left, Eriksen is always there in support, whilst the same goes for Barella on the right. Barella, a player with great physicality and dynamics, often exchanges positions with Hakimi, attacking inside or out.

 

Lukaku and Lautaro stay staggered at different heights, covering the high lanes, something which is often necessary when playing against closed defenses.

 

attacking moves inter milan

 

If Brozovic, the usual go-to-man when starting an offensive move, is unavailable, this is when Eriksen makes an appearance. He has been a key player in the second part of the season and has secured his place in the squad. When the build up begins with Eriksen, Brozovic is freed to push forward.

 

antonio conte attacking formations

 

Build up begins in their own area and ends in the opposite area. Many goals have been scored through this back line build up. Lukaka leads the way and Lautaro runs into space to receive. The wingers, Barella on the right are always in support.

 

inter pushing forward

 

Lukaku and Lautaro are always staggered at different heights. When the long ball is needed, they have a key role in holding up the ball and waiting for back up to arrive.

 

more examples of inter offense

 

The forwards position themselves deep in the opposition defense. Triangles are generated between the winger, central defender and midfielder. There are always passing options and no-one is left isolated without support.

 

inter milan goal scoring

 

Another Characteristic of the Inter Milan in Attack

 

As a team, they constantly seek to draw pressure out wide when on the ball. Once they draw the defenders towards them, they usually try to change wings where there is always a someone waiting high for the ball where the opposition is weak.

 

inter milan more attacking formations

 

They always crowd the box with as many players arriving from the 2nd line as possible. By doing this, they have scored many goals this season.

 

inter milan playing long to makaku

 

In the game against AC Milan, we can clearly see this pattern. Attract the pressure before playing long to the strikers who face the opposition defense face to face.

 

antonio conte attacking inter

inter milan scoring a goal

 

In this sequence we se the same thing. Build up from the back, starting in their own area, pulling the AC players towards them. The ball is played long to Lukaku, who sits inside the oppositions defensive line. He supports Hakimi in attacking the space that is created inside as Perisic arrives on the weak side and the play ends in a goal.

 

inter milan bastoni

 

Finally, another common play in the offensive play. When they cannot generate a numerical advantage on the wing, they often launch a surprise attack on the inside or outside with the central defender pushing up to support.

 

Conclusion

 

With all of these defensive and offensive traits combined, it’s little wonder that Inter Milan have been so dominant in Serie A this year. To sum up here are some key aspects of their game.

 

•    Compact 5-3-2 in defence where every team member plays a role.

 

•    Forwards play role in defence by closing down central passing lines.

 

•    Force opponent to play wide where they hit them with numerical superiority.

 

•    On recovery, Inter play long ball to Lukaku or Lautaro for quick break.

 

•    When restarting, Inter prefer to build from the back, playing short passes to advance to opponent’s area.

 

•    On reaching area, they flood it with players to get goal.

 

Without doubt, Inter are a fantastic team. I hope this analysis has been useful and informative to you. If you have any questions, please find me at the Analista Futbol Twitter channel. Thank You!

 

And, on behalf of Nacsport, we'd like to thank Tomas for taking time out of his busy schedule to provide us with such a fantastic and comprehensive analysis. Go give him a follow on Twitter and, while you're there, follow us too!

 

If you're not yet a Nacsport user, click the link below (desktop only) to begin a FREE 30-day trial of any of our products. If you have any questions, get in touch with us through any of the usual channels and we'll be happy to help.

Thanks for reading!

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